- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2002

Tennis great Billie Jean King may no longer roam Wimbledon's grass courts, but the intensity she brought to the sport's most hallowed ground hasn't dimmed.
The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, which provides tennis and educational programs for District-area youth, honored King and local tennis great Pauline Betz Addie on Saturday for their achievements on and off the court.
The gala at the Ritz-Carlton found King peppering reporters with talk of gender equity in sports and the benefits of a lifetime of playing.
"Sports teach about character, playing fair and accepting responsibilities," said the bespectacled King, who at 58 credits tennis for her sturdy health. "It teaches you how to be a productive human being."
Especially, she said, in the face of defeat.
"You have to get up the next morning and put your tennis shoes back on," she said.
Former Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison praised King as a transcendental figure in her sport.
She taught the next generation of players to "believe you can do anything you want to do," Garrison said. "She was a mentor for men as well as women."
Among the long list of well-wishers on hand to fete King were syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams, tennis players Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Paul Goldstein, Sen. John B. Breaux, venerable tennis broadcaster Bud Collins, local tennis coach Kathy Kemper and other fans, including Bitsey Folger and William Fitzgerald.
The affair may have had a somewhat feminine gloss to it snapshots of legendary female tennis players lined the reception's walls but the men in attendance effused about King's legendary career with equal fervor.
Mr. Collins recalled watching her win her first Wimbledon women's doubles title in 1961 and then again 18 years later.
"It was great to see that competitiveness," said Mr. Collins, who looked like a sartorial ace himself in a bright red bow tie and matching pants. "She wanted that second one."
CBS sportscaster Brett Haber shared a broadcasting booth with King two years ago at the World Team Tennis Championships
"There are not too many people I'm awestruck of in this business," Mr. Haber said. "When I sat down in the booth with Billie Jean, I caught my breath."
"I don't think any woman has done more for women in tennis or the game as a whole," he said.
Christian Toto


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